frequently asked questions

Frequently Asked Questions

It's very important to us that you have all your questions answered about our trips. We’ve collected some of the questions we get asked most often and answered them below. You can also try searching your question in the search field below.

And if you still can’t find the answers you need, give us a call or send us an email and we’ll help you out!

Can’t find an answer to your question? Give us a call or email and chat with Jodi.

PHONE: +64 3 595 2080+64 3 595 20801800 459 511 1-877-796-04160800 920 2011

Accommodation and Rooming

You will stay in a variety of accommodation all carefully selected to ensure that each place offers a new experience. We’ll take you from the lakeside in Queenstown, to a beach house on the West Coast within earshot of the sea and spectacular lodgings in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. Each night we guarantee you a charming room, hot showers and a comfy pillow in stunning peaceful locations around New Zealand.

If you are looking for a high-end accommodation option then please take a look at our Grand Explorer or World Heritage Walking Tour, which stay in laid-back luxury accommodation throughout. Otherwise you can find more details about the accommodation on each trip by clicking on one of the following links: Masterpiece, Kiwi Classic, Pure South or the Sweet North.

There is no forced single-supplement. If you are a solo traveler (as so many of our people are!) we will team you up with a member of the group of the same sex to share with for the duration of your trip. If you would like to guarantee your own room then there is the option to pay a single supplement. Please request a quote.

Of course – we can suggest accommodation at all levels whether you want a post-trip treat in a luxury hotel, or a more standard option.

Food and Dietary

Delicious! A great deal of care goes into ensuring the high standard of food and wine on your trips is as varied as the scenery, and fuels your incredible experiences. Depending on the trip you choose, we'll take you to our favourite restaurants each night (on the World Heritage, New Zealand Great Walk Adventure, Grand Explorer and Sweet North) or on our other trips, sometimes you'll stay in, and your guide will host a dinner party and cook for you. Either way, you will be looked after like royalty and, unlike some trips out there, you're our guest and you're never expected to do any food prep, cooking, or dishwashing.

On regular days, we start with a healthy breakfast with lots of choices and awesome coffee served at your accommodation before heading off for the day’s activity! Lunches are either in the best little cafes or restaurants en route or your guide will organise a wholesome packed lunch to last you all day on your activities. Dinners are in our favourite local places or your lodgings, using the best fresh local ingredients with a strong emphasis on introducing you to New Zealand specialties. When we dine out at restaurants you'll be able to purchase beverages from a great selection of local wine, beer or non-alcoholic drinks.

All of our trips have some ‘free days’ where we let you take some time to explore the local culture on your own. If you are on the World Heritage Walking Tour your 'free day' (in Queenstown) starts off with an included breakfast. The rest of the day is yours to explore – but there are plenty of tasty options for you in Queenstown. On all of our other trips though, you'll need to make your own arrangements on your ‘free days’ for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We'll always give you some local recommendations, but our guests tell us they enjoy the chance to make their own discoveries.

No worries at all – we can cater to all sorts of dietary requirements so just let us know your individual needs and we ensure you are well-fed. New Zealand caters well to vegetarians and vegans, so you will find plenty of options.

Trip Activity Levels

The hiking distances vary slightly from trip to trip, as they are each designed slightly differently to suit different tastes. Most of the people that join our trips have questions about how fit they need to be and the answer is that as long as you enjoy being out and about in the outdoors you will enjoy yourself – our trips are designed for active people but you don’t need to be an athlete! We have two trained guides on most hikes, meaning that everyone can go at their own pace and there is always flexibility within the itinerary to do more or less depending on your mood that day. Check out these pages for more details about the hikes on each trip. World Heritage Walking Tour, Grand ExplorerMasterpiece, Kiwi Classic, Pure SouthNew Zealand Great Walk Adventure and Sweet North.

Everyone walks at the pace most comfortable for them and there is never any time pressure on our walks. In a small group tour, it's natural that there will be different fitness levels in the group, but with two trained guides on most hikes, this is never a problem. If you'd like to stretch out a little, or take your time, either way you'll only ever have to walk at a pace that is comfortable for you.

If you are generally active and enjoy physical hobbies like hiking, cycling, golf, tennis or dancing then you will have no problems with the walks and activities on the tour. If you’d like to do a little preparation for your tour we recommend regular short walks anywhere from one to four hours in the six weeks leading up to your trip. It helps to wear the shoes and carry the backpack you will bring to New Zealand; this will assist you with getting used to your equipment. Whatever you can fit into your lifestyle will help but don’t overdo it and certainly don’t worry about it. We’ve had people of all ages and abilities on our walking tours and everyone’s had a great time!

Transport and Transfers

On your trip, you will generally travel in a late-model Mercedes Benz Sprinter vehicle. They are the top-of-the-line vehicles of their size in New Zealand and have been chosen for their high safety and comfort ratings.

Please see below for the city or town where your trips will start and finish:

World Heritage Walking Tour – Start/Finish Christchurch

Grand Explorer – Start/Finish Queenstown

Masterpiece – Start/Finish Queenstown

Kiwi Classic – Start/Finish Queenstown

Pure South – Start/Finish Queenstown to Christchurch

New Zealand Great Walk Adventure - Start/Finish Queenstown

Sweet North – Start/Finish Auckland

Let us know if you have questions about your flights and we are happy to help with your accommodation before and after your trip.

You will receive all the information you need once you have booked your trip. We will pick you up from our joining hotel or the airport on the first morning of your trip at a prearranged time. After your trip, we'll drop you back at the airport, into town, or just about anywhere you need to go – even though you probably won’t want to leave!

On day one of your trip, your guides will pick you up from either our joining hotel or the airport in a late-model Mercedes Benz Sprinter. This will be your vehicle for the duration of the trip and your luggage will travel with you in the luggage compartment. Each day we'll drive between 0.5 and 3 hours to reach our next destination. Our trips are carefully planned to give you the most time exploring the outdoors and any travel is always broken up with hikes, activities and coffee/bathroom breaks. You'll bring your small day pack with you inside the vehicle, with just your hiking essentials (jacket, water bottle, sun hat etc) and will be all you will need to carry with you when you are out exploring. Your luggage will stay in the vehicle until we reach our accommodation for the evening. 

If you are joining us on both a Sweet North and a South Island trip, it is a very easy to transition between the South and North Islands. Our national airline Air New Zealand operates several flights a day between Auckland and Queenstown or Christchurch. We leave the flights for you to organise so that you can choose where you would like to spend any extra time between your trips and the time that suits your plans. If you have any questions about the timings for your trips, or you would like any help at all, just ask us!  


To make it easy we suggest you bring one mid-sized suitcase or soft travel bag plus your day pack (recommended size 25 litres) per person. We will provide you with a comprehensive packing list, the items of which should fit easily into this allowance.

We will provide you with a comprehensive packing list when you book your trip. You will need to bring comfortable travel clothes, suitable outdoor wear that you can layer up for cooler days, a well-worn in pair of hiking boots and your personal items.

New Zealand is very casual so you could wear the same shorts every day and no-one will bat an eyelid. Wear clothes that you find comfortable, that you can hike and be active in, that will wash and dry quickly on the move and that pack easily into your travel bag. You won’t need anything 'dressy' on your New Zealand Trails trip, just a couple of nice things to put on in the evenings if you fancy.


Your guide will be one of our hand-picked, experienced and passionate Kiwis with a wide array of life experiences. From spotting native wildlife to bringing the past alive with stories from the land, from adjusting gear on hikes to providing that little extra encouragement during the last mile, the connections you make with your guides will last a lot longer than the duration of this tour. You can meet some of them on our people page here. We have two trained guides on most activities, meaning that everyone can go at their own pace and there is always flexibility within the itinerary to do more or less depending on your mood that day.

It’s completely up to you! New Zealand is not a tipping culture and it's not an expectation on our trips but if you would like to tip your guides then you are of course welcome.

Cost and Booking

Your trip includes your Kiwi super-guides (they drive, guide, cook, lead, carry, encourage and are responsible for making sure you have the best time), comfortable transport, outstanding accommodation, activities and most meals for the duration of your trip. The price also includes all local taxes and gratuities. New Zealand is not a tipping culture. If you'd like to show your appreciation to your guides with a tip it is very much appreciated but not an expectation on our trips. 

It’s easy! You can book online here or give us a call and we’ll talk you through it. You’ll need to pay a 15% deposit to secure your booking with the balance due 90 days before your departure date. You can pay your deposit by credit card in US, Australian or Canadian dollars, British pounds or Euros.

To secure your spot on the tour we require a 15% deposit, with the balance payable 90 days before departure. You have the option of paying by credit card, either over the phone or through our secure online booking page.

*We take a 15% deposit and this is valid for life! We will transfer your deposit to any other trip or trip date as long as we have availability*

Our cancellation policy is:

- 90 days or more notice before your trip departure: your choice of either a transfer to a different departure date or trip (subject to our date change provisions), or loss of deposit
- 89-60 days notice before tour departure: 50% of amount paid, or deposit (whichever is greater).
- 59 days or less notice before tour departure, or after scheduled departure: 100%.

Date changes provision: You may change the departure date of your tip by letting us know in writing at least 90 days before the departure date of the trip you are changing from.  This is subject to availability and possibly a different trip price, if applicable.  You may change your booking date, trip or participants once without any fees. After your first change, any further changes will incur a change fee of NZD200 per person. We will endeavour to accommodate any date requests but are sometimes limited due to availability on trips and operational requirements.

We like to be very open and transparent about what to expect when you book with us. But if you’re the kind of person that likes to dig deep into the details, you’ll find that here. And if you still cant find what you’re looking for, give us a call. We love to chat!

You can change your booking to another one of our departures by giving us at least 90 days' notice before the departure of the trip you are changing from and to. Your first trip change is free, if you'd like to change your trip again after this a fee of NZD200 per person will apply to all future changes. We will always try to accommodate any date changes like this but we are sometimes limited by availability and operational requirements. 

As our tours are in small groups, we are usually fully booked during the summer season so we advise booking as soon as possible in order to avoid disappointment. New Zealand is a small country with limited international air connections so flights and hotels can be booked out quickly in popular spots during high season. It's normal for guests to book on our tours 9-12 months in advance. To make planning your trip go as smoothly as possible we suggest you book your tour first, before you book any flights to New Zealand.

We regularly organise private tours for specialist groups, clubs, extended families and groups of friends wishing to travel together and would be more than happy to help you with your travel plans.

You can read more about our private New Zealand tours here.

Our tax in New Zealand is 15%.

You can still have an amazing adventure in New Zealand if you have a shorter amount of time to travel with us. All of our trips are very flexible, we can offer shorter options of any of our trips or even put together a private group departure if you'd like. Just get in touch and Jodi can talk you through your options and find a trip that works for you.

Hikes and Activities

Our fully supported tours are designed to make your New Zealand adventure as easy and safe as possible. Your guide will be at your service for the entire duration of the tour, during hikes and other outdoor activities, but also at any other time of the day to help in any way possible. A big part of the tour is the interpretation your guide will provide, giving you the opportunity to learn all about New Zealand's fascinating environment. Your guide is fully trained in first aid and we operate under an independently audited safety plan.

For more information read our blog on the best time for hiking in New Zealand.

Safety is always our top priority. We take great pride in our impeccable safety record and our safety management plans. Your guide will be a highly experienced outdoors professional who is first aid qualified and fully equipped with a satellite phone, personal locator beacon and first aid kit. Our trips have direct access to our highly experienced operations team and other outside services 24 hours a day.

When it comes to Covid-19, we are following all guidelines and recommendations from the New Zealand government, and have developed a Covid-19 Safety Plan that is regularly updated and follows the latest recommendations. We will be taking a number of precautions to ensure the health and safety of our guests and guides on our trips and have received the COVID Clean Approved endorsement from Qualmark. You can read about everything we are doing to keep you safe on our Travelling safely with New Zealand Trails page.

You certainly don’t need any technical outdoors experience to enjoy your New Zealand Trails trip. If you enjoy being out and about in the outdoors and are a generally active person who enjoys hobbies like walking, cycling, golf, tennis or dancing then you will have no problems at all with the walks and activities on your trip.

If your trip has kayaking on it (Masterpiece, Kiwi Classic, World Heritage Walking Tour, Sweet North) there’s no need for you to have ever been kayaking before. The kayaking is suitable for beginners and you will be in double sea kayaks, which are very stable. A specialist kayak guide will teach you everything you need to know before you head out and will be with you out on the water.

If your trip has biking on it (Masterpiece, Kiwi Classic, Pure South) you will need some biking experience to complete the bike ride on your trip. The trails we bike on are undulating gravel tracks that are rated as “easy” trail rides but you’ll need to have done some biking before to comfortably and safely take part in the bike rides. The activities on our trips are very flexible and many of our guests opt to walk instead of bike. The trails we bike on are shared walking/biking trails so you’ll be able to enjoy a walk with your guide if you prefer.

If you are looking at the Kiwi Classic trip, on days 5 and 6 you will hike the Nydia Track in the Pelorus Sound and on days 8 and 9 you will hike to Bushline Hut in Nelson Lakes National Park. These are overnight backpacking trips and while you will be carrying your gear for this trip and heading into a remote backcountry area, you don’t need any outdoors experience for this section of the trip. Your guides will brief you on everything you need to know for this adventure and they will take care of all safety aspects along the way so you can just enjoy the hiking.

About the group

We run small-group tours, so along with your guides, there are typically 12-15 guests in your group. We have found keeping our group sizes small is the perfect way to make sure everyone has the best time.

Here at New Zealand Trails, we welcome everyone who shares our love of the outdoors. If you are looking to explore the best of New Zealand and experience the people, places and culture that make New Zealand so special then you're in the right place. Our small groups of like-minded travellers are from all over the world and come from a wide range of interesting backgrounds. The average age range on our trips is between 55 and 75 but we find it's a lot more about the mindset than actual age. Our guests are all here for the same reason as you - to explore New Zealand!

If you want to get a really good picture (literally) of who comes on each of our different trips, check out our New Zealand trip photo gallery.

We get a pretty wide range of age groups on our tours, anywhere from people in their 30s to 70s. In any case, we reckon it’s more about attitude than age, which is why the social dynamics usually work so well. If you love the idea of getting out into the most incredible landscapes on the planet, with your feet on the ground rather than looking out of a coach window, and you enjoy your creature comforts -- we know you will love our trips!

Check out our photo galleries for real people on our New Zealand tours.

No worries at all, we get plenty of people joining us who are also travelling solo. Our trips are a fun, stress-free way to explore a new country where you'll share lots of laughs with new friends and never have to eat alone. Most share a twin room with another solo traveller of the same sex, but if you're not comfortable with that you have the option of upgrading to guarantee your own room. There's no mandatory single supplement, and you might even end up with your own room by default if no other single is available to share.

Yes, our walking trips are inclusive of those with physical impairments and designed for anyone with an active lifestyle. Our guides have extensive training including recognizing the different needs of our guests. For more information, please feel free to get in touch.

Coming on a guided trip with us means we take care of everything! Our small group tours have a maximum of 14 guests per trip along with your local, New Zealand guide and are designed to make it easy, fun and safe for you to explore on your New Zealand trip of a lifetime.

Before your trip:
You’ll have a dedicated guest service team member to assist you every step of the way. From advising what you should pack to choosing the best flights to arrive for your trip on time and helping organize pre and post-trip accommodation. No matter when you book or how far in advance you plan your travel, our team is here to help.

During your trip:
On your trip, you’ll have two dedicated local New Zealand guides who will take care of everything. They provide food, snacks and safety information, as well as arrange all of your activities and make sure you get where you need to be safely and on time. They’ll also share their extensive knowledge of our country and culture and provide flexibility so you can enjoy New Zealand at the pace that’s right for you.

After your trip:
Your dedicated guest service team member will be there to support you. From helping book accommodation and advising on the best flights to sharing local knowledge on other activities you might enjoy or the best places to eat. You’ll also receive all the photos from your trip that your guides have collected along the way so you can cherish the memories of your adventure.

A typical day on a New Zealand Trails trip always starts with a tasty breakfast that will fuel you up for your day of exploration. Your guides will then drive you onwards to your morning activity. You'll spend the day exploring our favourite National Parks and hiking trails or experiencing a new activity like swimming with dolphins or kayaking in Queen Charlotte Sound. Refreshed and feeling accomplished from a day of adventure, your guides will then take you to your accommodation. You'll have time to relax before meeting the group for a delicious dinner of local fare where we'll swap stories and start getting excited about the following day!

General travel information

We recommend travelling to New Zealand when the weather is at its best for making the most of the outdoors, so any time from the spring through to autumn. The spring is during the months of late October to November, the summer months are December/January/February and the autumn is March/April time.

Read more about this in our blog - the best time to visit New Zealand 

New Zealand is made up of two main islands and many smaller ones. The North Island has a mild climate with subtropical temperatures in the summer months and the temperature grows slightly cooler as you head to the South Island, where the alpine regions lie. Many places in New Zealand get over 2,000 hours of sunshine a year!

If you are holidaying for 3 months or less from Australia, the UK, the US or are visiting from one of the Visa waiver countries listed here you will not need a Visa. If you are from the UK, US or a visa waiver country you will however need to complete and pay for a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) as well as pay an International Visitor Levy (IVL) before you arrive in New Zealand. Australian citizens do not need to obtain an NZeTA but Australian permanent residents do. They are valid for 2 years and cover multiple entries into New Zealand. You can apply for your NZeTA here.

If you are not from a visa waiver country or would like to work or stay longer than 3 months in New Zealand you will need to apply for a visa and more information can be found here.

Please also ensure you have enough validity on your passport as when you arrive in New Zealand your passport must be valid for at least three months beyond your intended departure date. It is recommended to have six months validity on your passport as all countries have different requirements.

This information is supplied in good faith but we are not an authority on visas & passports in New Zealand. We recommend you check the New Zealand government website here to confirm if you need a visitor visa or NZeTA.

Absolutely, our friendly and helpful guest services team can help you with your pre or post-trip accommodation once you have booked your trip with us. 

Yes. We strongly recommend getting a comprehensive policy to ensure you are well covered for any unexpected occurrences before or on your trip. To qualify for full cover, many insurance companies require you to take out insurance within a certain timeframe of booking your trip with us so we recommend you look into your travel insurance as soon as you book your trip. 

You can find the start and finish times for each trip listed in the specific trip FAQ sections of our trip pages - World Heritage Walking Tour, Grand ExplorerMasterpiece, Kiwi Classic, Pure South, New Zealand Great Walk Adventure and Sweet North.

There are no vaccinations required to enter New Zealand but we recommend that you are up to date with all your usual immunisations and boosters and are fit to travel.

Yes! There are plenty of opportunities to do laundry on your trip – many of the places you stay have washing machines available for a small fee.

Yes – we are well connected in New Zealand! That said - we recommend you disconnect and make the most of your time away – you can reconnect when you get back home. You will have access to the internet at least every few days, whether free at your accommodation or for a small fee. While New Zealand is quite tech savvy the wifi at some accommodation may not be of the speed you are used to back home.

New Zealand's electricity supply runs at 230/240 volts and we use angled two or three pin plugs.

There are a number of activities you can choose to do in Queenstown and Nelson, which your guide will help you book once you arrive. From jet-boats and bungy jumps, to more sedate kayak or walking trips, or just take yourself for a wander, you will be spoiled for choice.

We recommend reading any guidebooks you can find in the library or book-store and the following novels:

The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton
The Bone People – Keri Hulme
The Colour – Rose Tremaine
The Whale Rider – Witi Ihimaera

We always recommend our national carrier, Air New Zealand. They are a star alliance partner which means they have alliances with United Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qantas and Singapore Airlines, among many others. When you book with Air New Zealand you can book both your international flights and any connecting domestic flights you may need in your home country or in New Zealand. We always suggest booking a flexible fare and checking any change fees that may apply. 

Yes, we can! Our dedicated Guest Services team member Becky will be here to help every step of the way. She can advise you on which flights you should book to ensure you arrive for your trip on time, the best accommodation for you pre and post-trip and everything in between. She’s here to make sure your travel experience is seamless and stress-free.


Still can’t find what you're looking for? Give us a call or email and Jodi will be happy to help.